Thursday, 25 October 2012

True Or False: Six Scary 'Facts' For Halloween

Witches, Vampire Bats and Explosive Flatulence...

Scary 'facts' for Halloween.
One of the weird things about society is that sometimes even apparently intelligent people can be taken in by a total bluff.  This is quite an integral part of the plot in my alien comedy 'How To Save The World' books, and so as it’s Halloween in a few days time I thought I would compile a list of six scary ‘facts’ to let people discover how astute they are at spotting a bluff and how sharp they are at recognising the truth.  Just to clarify, some of these ‘facts’ are true but some are entirely made up.

A few of these scary ‘facts’ are connected with vampire bats, witches and other such scary Halloween related themes, whereas other ‘facts’ aren’t really what you would class as ‘horror movie’ type scary, but they’re still quite frightening in their own way.

Anyway, these are the ‘facts’ so have a read and see if you can decide which are true and which are made up, then check the answers at the end of the list to see how well you did.

Fact 1 - Witch burning statistics and witch crimes...

Most people are aware that centuries ago women suspected of being witches were burnt at the stake (and sometimes also men, but an estimated 75-80% of witches burnt were women), and estimates for the number of witches burnt during the era of witch-hunts range between 5,000 to 10,000 in Europe alone.  Some of the ‘crimes’ which could result in someone being accused of being a witch included, ‘prolonged affliction with warts and gangrene*,’ ‘displaying excessive quantities of flesh with the wanton intention of inducing sexual fever in males’ and the rather bizarre ‘being in possession of more than three mirrors.’

* Presumably one or the other was fine, just not both.

True or false?

Fact 2 - Explosive Flatulence

Parpulla Magendus is the scientific name for the condition more commonly known as explosive flatulence.  Although this sounds quite amusing, explosive flatulence is far from amusing for those who suffer from it as in extreme cases it has been known to cause second degree internal burns.  The cause of explosive flatulence isn’t categorically known but the most widely believed theory suggests that it may be caused by exposure to glorichindrin, a rare fungus found only in certain parts of Central America, particularly Costa Rica and Honduras.

True or false?

The UK national debt was £1.06 trillion when
this post was first published but has
since increased to £1.2 trillion.

Fact 3 - UK National Debt

The UK national debt currently stands at 1.2 trillion pounds!  Or to express that in figures it reads £1,211,800,000,000.  The interest on this debt currently costs £48.6 billion per year!  If you divide that up between every household in the UK, it amounts to a cost of £2,130 per household per year in interest alone.  (Figures shown relate to September 2013).

True or false?

Fact 4 - Bells In Coffins

In the olden days undertakers used to place a bell inside coffins when they buried people in case the person getting buried wasn’t actually dead.  That way if the ‘dead’ person subsequently woke up they could ring the bell and alert passers-by that the undertaker had foolishly buried someone who was still alive by mistake.

True or false?

Vampire bats.

Fact 5 - Vampire bats and phlastibidia...

Those with a keen interest in nature may already know that when a vampire bat bites a victim it releases an anticoagulant to prevent its victim’s blood from clotting, thereby increasing the bat’s chances of a generous feed of blood.  However, not so well known is the fact that phlastibidia, a probiotic enzyme found in garlic, is a natural defense against the anticoagulant nature of bat saliva.  This makes garlic an effective natural defense against vampire bat bites and perhaps explains the origins of garlic being used in fiction to scare off vampires.

True or false?

Fact 6 - Helium gas

Inhaling helium gas and then speaking in a squeaky voice may seem like a funny prank but in actual fact it’s no laughing matter.  Helium inhalation was responsible for 42 deaths over the last year.

True or false?

Scroll down the page to see how you did…


"She's not a witch!"
"Okay, we did do the nose."

1) Witch burning statistics and witch crimes - FALSE

Estimates put the numbers of ‘witches’ burnt alive even higher at between 40,000 to 60,000.  Also, I just made up that list of witch crimes.

However, some of the actual crimes witches were accused of were just as ridiculous.  For example at the North Berwick witch trials of 1590 around seventy people were accused of using witchcraft to cause storms in an attempt to sink King James VI’s ship.  Other even more ridiculous powers accredited to witches were the ability to fly during the night and the ability to change their shape.

I mean … come on!  As any intelligent person knows, it’s doppelgangers who can change their shape, not witches.

2) Explosive flatulence - FALSE

Explosive flatulence and all that patter about glorichindrin doesn’t actually exist.  I just made it up.  Which is probably quite a big relief to anyone reading this in Costa Rica or Honduras.

3) UK national debt of £1.2 trillion - TRUE

Unfortunately this one is true.  So if you’re an old person who is jealous of young people for being young, console yourself with the fact that at least you’ll probably be dead in a few years and therefore won’t have to worry about all the debt, whereas young people are at some point in the future going to have to stop being ostriches and face up to the massive amount of money we owe as a country.

4) Bells in coffins – TRUE

A bell used in a coffin would be smaller than this bell.
I used to work with a girl whose dad was an undertaker so I got her to check this out and apparently they don't put bells in coffins any more because people are definitely dead when we bury them nowadays.  It was just in the olden days when live people used to occasionally get foolishly buried.

Although having said that, I remember watching a TV program in the eighties as a kid where some dude had ‘died’ so the doctors then asked his family if he would have wanted his organs to be donated for transplants.  The doctors were then just about to operate on the dude when luckily just in the nick of time this allegedly dead dude woke up.  So as you’d expect his family were all, ‘Ar, actually doctor … no, we’ll not donate his organs after all … seeing as how he’s still alive, you daft fool!’

Presumably, and hopefully, medical science has improved considerably since the eighties, though.

5) Vampire bats and phlastibidia - FALSE

The saliva of vampire bats does indeed contain an anticoagulant, but I just made up all that stuff about phlastibidia and garlic and stuff.

6) Helium deaths – TRUE

I got quite a shock when I read this but it was in Metro newspaper so it was from a reliable source.

. . . . . . . .

How did you do?  Did I manage to bluff you with any of the ‘facts’ or were you alert to my bluffery?

You can stay up-to-date with future True Or False quizzes by following me, Charles Fudgemuffin, on facebook and twitter.  Or if you’re not really that interested then why not follow me anyway out of politeness just to make me look more popular!
Facebook: CharlesFudgemuffin
Twitter: @CFudgemuffin

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About The Author

The 'How To Save The World' books
by Charles Fudgemuffin
Charles Fudgemuffin is the author of the alien comedy 'How To Save The World' books which are available for Kindle from Amazon.  The first book in the series is available from the following link:
How To Save The World: An Alien Comedy

As with all Kindle books, you can also download a free sample of the first few chapters.

Please note, the 'How To Save The World' books contain material suitable for ages 18+ and are not recommended for prudes or squares.